The last few years have given a sudden rise in superhero and comic book movies released in theaters, which is likely to be credited to the incredible success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. With Marvel, DC and other comic-book entities releasing their new films left, right and center, avid comic book fans have had to make far more trips to the theater over the past couple of years than they usually would.
2017 in particular has had ten major comic-book adaptations released so far, with Justice League still on the horizon. However, not every one of these films is as stellar as the other.
Rotten Tomatoes, the popular review aggregator that rounds up most major critics’ reviews in order to give films an overall percentage, uses these ratings to determine whether a film is “Rotten” or “Fresh.” This site’s popularity has risen over the past few years and has now become a fairly reliable source on the quality of upcoming films.
While a recent study shows that Rotten Tomatoes does not have any significant effect on the box office, the site is still a helpful tool when considering a trip to the theater. So, how have this year’s comic book adaptations faired on the aggregator site? Here’s every comic-book movie released in 2017 so far, ranked by their “Tomatometer” score on Rotten Tomatoes:
10. ‘Valerian and the City Of A Thousand Planets’ – 50%
The poor critics reception to Valerian wasn’t actually a shock to most people. Valerian is a “source material” comic book, which means many other comics were inspired by the original Valerian comics, and thus many comic book movies were inspired by it as well. The issue is that, with so much of the Valerian comics being “copied” in other films like Guardians of the Galaxy, a good chunk of Valerian felt unoriginal, despite it being the original.
The main critics consensus was that the film was a visual spectacle, with some truly fantastic CGI. Unfortunately, the narrative was not as up to par, and the movie failed critically because of this.
“As a complete motion picture experience, it falls considerably short.”
9. ‘Kingsman: The Golden Circle’ – 51%
The most recent addition to this list, Kingsman: The Gold Circledisappoints critics quite a bit. The first film in the series, Kingsman: The Secret Service, was Certified Fresh with a 74% score on the Tomatometer, so it’s safe to say that this highly anticipated sequel does not live up to the original critically.
Critics argue that the fun fight scenes of the first film remain in the sequel, but the creativity and inventiveness of The Secret Service appear to be left at the door. Some critics even complain that the films relies too heavily on CGI, rather than practical effects, whereas the first film had a happy medium between the two.
“Overkill is the order of the day – and it takes a toll.”
8. ‘Atomic Blonde’ – 76%
The biggest driving force for Atomic Blonde was, arguably, its strong, female protagonist. Charlize Theron drove this film with her fantastic portrayal of a very well written character.
Unfortunately, many critics argue that while the characters were well established, the narrative unfortunately was not. While the film is Certified Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, it was not good enough critically to top this list.
“Although the plot is underwhelming, the action sequences really stand out with Theron leading the way with a commanding performance.”
7. ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’ – 82%
While Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 was a truly fun film with some fantastic visual effects, critics believed that it still could have been better. The sequel stands 9% lower than the first Guardians of the Galaxy, which stands strong at 91% on the Tomatometer.
One of the biggest complaints of Vol. 2 is that while most of the character development worked phenomenally, there were some arcs that were either too on the nose or lacked depth. Overall, though, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 was a great film, and is still on the higher end of the Tomatometer.
“Like many a sequel to a slam-bang, much-liked mega-hit, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 isn’t quite as much fun, not quite as clever, not quite as fresh as the original – but it still packs a bright and shiny and sweet punch.”
6. ‘Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie’ – 87%There should be no doubt about the fact that Captain Underpants is the underdog on this list. The film not only included fantastic comedy actors like Kevin Hart and Ed Helms, but also included a strong and entertaining story that was a great deal of fun to follow.
One of the most notable features of the film, however, is its unique comedy style. Unlike the books Captain Underpants is based on, the movie has a lot more dark humor than the source material’s potty humor. Many of the jokes in the film were almost sadistic, making numerous jabs at America’s declining school system. The comedy of the film manages to keep both kids and adults glued to their seats throughout the entire movie, and that is likely what’s responsible for putting this obscure superhero so high on the Tomatometer.
“It’s a bird! it’s a plane! It’s a kids’ movie that won’t make grownups want to manually remove their own toenails!”
5. ‘The LEGO Batman Movie’ – 91%
The LEGO Batman Movie turned out to be one of the funniest superhero films to be released in recent memory. Instead of taking itself super seriously, this film managed to be almost a parody, making jabs at every Batman movie to date, Marvel, and the DCEU’s Suicide Squad.
Just like its predecessor, The LEGO Movie, The LEGO Batman Moviehad a phenomenal cast. The film includes the likes of Will Arnett, Zach Galifinakis, Michael Cera, Conan O’Brien, Rosario Dawson, Ralph Fiennes, Jenny Slate, Billy Dee Williams, Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill, Seth Green, Adam Devine, Ellie Kemper, and Mariah Carey. The wide range of great actors truly brought a unique comedic style to the film, making it all the more enjoyable.
“The Lego Batman Movie works precisely because it knows audiences are sick of its hero. It’s a reassessment, an intervention, an effort to try and remember what’s fun about him.”
4. ‘Wonder Woman’ – 92%This film was a breath of fresh air for audiences and critics alike. Not only was it the first female-led superhero film to be enjoyed almost unanimously, but it was also the first film in the DC Extended Universe to be well received by critics.
The fantastic coloration, the inspiring story arc, the epic rock score, and the talented acting all contributed to one of the best superhero films of the year. This film now stands as a beacon of hope for the DCEU, restoring hope in audiences that future DC films will follow suit and be just as glorious as Wonder Woman.
“With one talented woman in front of the camera and another behind, the film blazes an amusing proto-feminist path.”
3. ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’ – 92%
Like Wonder Woman, Spider-Man: Homecoming was yet another breath of fresh air, being the first Spider-Man film in 13 years to stand out. Homecoming is the second highest Spider-Man film on the Tomatometer, just under Spider-Man 2, which stands strong at 94%.
Homecoming featured an entertaining story, with plenty of plot twists that managed to break the film away from Marvel’s repetitive story arc. Furthermore, the campy high-school genre popular in in the ’80s and ’90s managed to make its triumphant return in Spider-Man: Homecoming, making the film just as much about Spider-Man getting a homecoming date as it was about stopping a flying supervillain from getting his hands on alien weaponry.
“An utter gas, a fast and very funny superflick that inserts Spidey into the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe without ever losing sight of what makes him unique and beloved.”
2. ‘Logan’ – 93%
Looking back, there’s no other superhero film this year that was as serious and moving as Logan. This film beautifully ripped the heart out of X-Men fans, proving itself to be one of the most powerful superhero films to date.
Logan turned out to be more of a western than a classic superhero film, even managing to get a black-and-white cut that premiered in select theaters shortly after release. I could go on a long rant about how amazing Logan turned out to be, and how well it blew the previous two Wolverine films out of the water, but perhaps Rolling Stone’s Peter Travers says it best.
“Make no mistake, Logan earns its tears. If Jackman and Stewart are serious about this being their mutual X-Men swan song, they could not have crafted a more heartfelt valedictory.”
1. ‘Thor: Ragnarok’ – 96%
Marvel Studios has been working on expanding the different traits of their films, with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 being a space opera, Doctor Strange being a magical fantasy, and Spider-Man: Homecoming being a high school comedy. Thor: Ragnarok divulges the MCU into a new field by being a buddy comedy, and it is really clicking with the critics!
Not only is Thor: Ragnarok the highest rated comic book movie of the year so far, but it’s now the highest rated superhero movie on Rotten Tomatoes, resting only 1% behind The Incredibles. All in all, it would appear Thor: Ragnarok deserves its place at the top spot on this list!
“One imagines Marvel turning the keys over to director Taika Waititi and saying, ‘There’s a couple hundred million on the kitchen counter, have fun.'”
What was your favorite comic-book movie of the year so far? Let us know in the comments, and thanks for reading!
[Top Photo Credit: Warner Bros Pictures; Marvel Studios]